Friday, April 15, 2016

A Shameful Exploitation

At the risk of overgeneralizing, it is easy to see why a reactionary institution like the police occupies a Manichean, bifurcated world, where the law of the jungle demands, "You are either for us, or you are against us." Even though such a world view depicts a lamentably shallow mentality, the frontline people who we rely on for our protection can perhaps be forgiven for that shortcoming. It is cowardly, indefensible and reprehensible, however, when those same protectors, in response to criticism that is not only valid but absolutely essential for a healthy functioning democracy, exploit both those criticisms and police tragedies, for their own selfish institutionalized reasons.

Consider, for example, this fact:
Black Lives Matter recently ended a two-week protest outside Toronto police headquarters protesting the SIU’s decision not to lay charges in the July 2015 death of Andrew Loku. The South Sudanese man, who lived in an apartment building rented to people with mental health difficulties, was shot dead by Toronto police while holding a hammer.
Because that sit-in resulted in some much-needed but most unwelcome (in the view of Toronto Police) attention to systemic racism within the force, Toronto Police Association president Mike McCormack mounted a counter-offensive that forced this show of support from Toronto mayor John Tory:
"I strongly support the men and women of our police service and the job they do day in and day out for us,” Tory said from China, where he’s leading a delegation of business and academic leaders. “It’s a difficult and complicated job.”
What forced this avowal of fealty from Toronto's chief magistrate?
Tory was responding to a Toronto Police Association internal memo to the rank-and-file, issued Tuesday, that raised concerns about new provincial regulations limiting the use of street checks and “broad scale lack of police support from provincial and local politicians and other public leaders.”
The TPA leadership also criticized a city council motion that passed unanimously earlier this month calling for a provincial review of Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) “with an anti-black racism lens.” The SIU is the province’s police watchdog, which investigates incidents of serious injury or death involving police.

If the motion is acted upon, TPA president Mike McCormack and his board warned in the memo, “officers risk judgment based on political considerations and agendas driven by special interest groups.”
So in other words, the very legitimate grievances against the police are reduced to 'agendas driven by special interest groups'? Clever, but disingenuous and despicable. And also futile. The protest over the Loku killing has led to a decision to call an inquest, one that will force both the identities of the officers involved and the details of their shooting to become part of the public record, where such things belong.

But the above police efforts at deflection are pretty mild indeed compared to what follows.

No one but the depraved would wish a police officer killed, but when such tragedies occur, no intelligent, sensitive and critical-thinking individual would countenance the police taking advantage for the purposes of propaganda. Watch the following report to the end, and you will see what I mean:

In the above, Craig Floyd, National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund spokesman, explicitly places the blame for such shootings on the criticism of police, criticism that has become increasingly vocal thanks to their well-publicized murders of unarmed civilians, many captured on camera, like this one:

The police would much prefer that citizens turn a blind eye to their sometimes murderous tactics and worry only about themselves. Sorry, but this is not the way of democracy, and it is not the way a healthy society responds when their legal protectors go rogue. My advice to the police is simple: learn from your egregious mistakes, and don't try to justify or conceal them. Otherwise, much tighter restrictions will have to be imposed upon you. Somehow, I don't think you would like that, eh?


  1. I think some police communities have gone to an "us versus them" approach to the entire civilian population. Some of them are hostile to all civilians and when they see us all as potential threats they're far more likely to create the Sammy Yatim scenario resorting to excessive, even lethal force, without justification. That spills over to the civilian side that can come to see police not as their protectors but as feral aggressors.

    A number of years ago I read of the political dynamics of the Toronto Police Association and the group came across as hyper-belligerent and thuggish. Neither the police board nor the city council - for that matter even the province - seemed to have any effective control over them. It was like the military defying civilian control. You simply cannot tolerate that. It's gone much too far.

    1. Until governing bodies such as police services boards and provincial governments find the political courage to stand up to these thugs, Mounds, I see little reason for optimism.

    2. Unfortunately, I believe you have unwittingly fallen into a word trap, calling the general public "civilians", Mound.

      The police are civilians too, unless you believe we don't have Armed Forces. The Toronto Police do indeed call members of the general public "civilians", and I strenuously object to the use of the term by those idiots.

      It's like calling accidental injuries "wounds". The two terms are not synonymous unless you are a blinkered journalist searching for zippy copy, and have no idea of the proper use of the language. Much as leaders mulling decisions, a practice normally reserved for wine. One mulls over a decision, and says "as far as weather is concerned", not "as far as weather".

      Sorry if I'm picky on the civilian point, but if you start using Toronto Police terms, you have already lost a philosophical talking point to the armed force they think they are. And my pal the retired Mountie agrees with me.

      Screw the us versus them mentality many city police forces espouse. Just google "are police civilians too".


    3. An excellent point that that likely hasn't occurred to very many people (including me), BM.

    4. Point taken, BM, but your retired Mountie can tell you that the RCMP was always considered a paramilitary force. I heard that often enough from my late father-in-law, a Mountie from the pre-war dog sled days.